Mixed emotions at the Walmiki household ahead of Rio

Yuvraj was among the probables for the London Olympics but did not make the cut. He was called to the National camp during the preparation phase for Rio 2016, based on Hockey India League performances, but his name was missing again.

Meanwhile, Hockey India’s 16-member squad for Rio included Devinder, putting him in line for an Olympic debut.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Olympics is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many sportspersons. When two from the same family chase the same dream to play hockey for India, like the Walmiki brothers — Yuvraj and Devinder — despair and delight is par for the course.

Yuvraj was among the probables for the London Olympics but did not make the cut. He was called to the National camp during the preparation phase for Rio 2016, based on Hockey India League performances, but his name was missing again.

Meanwhile, Hockey India’s 16-member squad for Rio included Devinder, putting him in line for an Olympic debut. “When Devinder plays the first match in Rio, my hurt will heal a bit,” said Yuvraj.

The two were part of the team that took bronze at the World Hockey League finals. “I felt sad when Yuvraj was dropped for London when he was one of the top forwards. Getting chosen for 2016 is a way to fulfil his dream,” said Devinder.

Yuvraj adds: “I have learnt that in hockey or life, you do not get all that you wish. The hunger to play for India will never die. Devinder came into the senior squad for the first time when I was part of the team. I want to make a comeback when he is in the side.”

The Walmiki brothers went to the same school (Our Lady of Dolours), joined the same club (Bombay Republicans) and stay with parents at Marine Lines, close to MHAL hockey stadium. As the hockey elder, Yuvraj has always showed the way, on and off the turf.

He made a name for himself as an ace goal-poacher, hoodwinking big-built defenders using speed, anticipation and touch in the forward line. Devinder worked hard to make an impact as a drag-flicker, positioning and marking in the defence.

When the Hockey India League began, Yuvraj went to Delhi Waveriders and struck form in the goalmouth during the 2015 season to earn a recall to the national camp in Bengaluru. Devinder, who plies his trade in Kalinga Lancers, was already there, recovering from a shoulder injury.

The latter got fit in time to play the Champions Trophy 2016 in London, displayed physical conditioning in the midfield and had a knack for scoring goals as part of an extremely attacking forward line. Rio is the next step forward.

Two days before Devinder’s departure to join the squad, he was the centre of attraction at a session arranged by Yuvraj for Republicans’ players. The younger brother led the training session and spoke to club teammates about the Indian team’s preparations.

2014 World Cupper Yuvraj concludes: “Olympics is his dream. For those not part of the national side, HIL is the only way to return to international hockey. You play against the world’s best and prove yourself all over again.”